Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 43.1 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,155,000. In South Africa, there have been 891 new cases, taking the total reported to 716,759. Deaths have reached 19,008 (a daily increase of 40), while recoveries have climbed to 646,721, leaving the country with a balance of 51,030 active cases.
- Lockdown impossible: Economists and analysts say that another hard lockdown in South Africa will be an impossible situation – which could lead to ‘state violence’. Government has warned that a move to hard lockdown could be on the cards if Covid-19 infections rise due to citizens getting complacent with regulations. However, economists say the country’s economy would not survive the move, and that other crises in the county would spiral. 
- Steering ships: Opposition parties and civil groups are calling on government to avoid raising further taxes and to steer away from bailing out state-owned companies when finance minister Tito Mboweni tables his mid-term budget this week. They argue that the focus should be on cutting spending and addressing the country’s ballooning debt, not milking an already strained tax base, and ploughing more money into failed enterprises. SAA, Denel, and the Land Bank are among the SOEs seeking billions – while several taxes have been mooted. [ENCA]
- Cracking the egg: Lockdown forced many South Africans to tap into their retirement nest-egg to sustain themselves during a period with no income – which will likely have terrible implications for an already poor retirement and savings culture in the country. According to 10x Investments, three quarters of South Africans are unsure about having enough money to retire, with the same number expecting to have to work after retirement. The full impact of the lockdown on retirement savings is not yet known, but expected to be significant. [Moneyweb]
- Raided: The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has raided the offices of Mirror Trading International (MTI) in Stellenbosch and Polokwane, as well as the home of two of its leadership team members in Durban. Recent investigations into the group have flagged questionable activity. The scheme claims to trade forex via bitcoin, offering unrealistically high returns. MTI claimed to have more than R2.9 billion in clients’ funds in trading accounts, but the FSCA has not been able to conclusively confirm that the funds exist. [MyBroadband]
- Markets: The rand tested a new high overnight, looking for enough momentum to break through the R16.15 to the dollar level, as the dollar continues to face pressure. US durable goods orders are due for release today. The rand starts the day on Tuesday at R16.17 to the dollar, R19.11 to the euro and R21.08 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]